“My name is Dr. Kilines Sekwiha, and I am the Founder of the Queen Elizabeth Academy (QEA) in Mlali. When I was a child, my parents saw my love of learning and sacrificed to keep me in school. It was typical for girls in my village to marry at young age and for boys to become shepherds or farmers. As my father later told me:
‘When it was time to send my kids to school I did not make them take care of the cows. Instead, I sold my cows and did any odd jobs I could to get school fees for my children. My children are changing the world. Do you think my cows could ever have done that?’
I believe that all children deserve a high quality education so they can live out their dreams. My goal is to see our children become knowledgeable, dedicated role models and the future leaders of our country. My role in this process is simply as a catalyst; one who initiates and triggers actions for change.”
The Queen Elizabeth Academy was founded in 2008 by Dr. Kilines Sekwiha and her family in their home village of Mlali in central Tanzania. Thanks to her determination and the unwavering support of parents and family, Kilines became a Doctor of Education, completing her PHD at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She is now a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam.
As she explained, Kilines was inspired to establish the Queen Elizabeth Academy as a way to give back to the community that had enabled her to go so far and to ensure that in the future, her story would be the rule rather than the exception.
The idea began to develop while she was studying for her undergraduate degree at the university of Dar es Salaam. While on trips home to Mlali, children began showing up asking her for money. She decided that instead of handing money to them, she would save it and pay for them to have a good meal every day. Kilines began sending her own funds back to Mlali from university to run a feeding program at the village hall for those children who needed it. Lunch was scheduled for noon, but children began to show up early in the morning, so Athanas, Kilines's brother began to teach them basic reading and writing while they waited.
People in the village noticed the change that this was making and requested that the Sekwiha family make their work official. In 2008, the Queen Elizabeth Academy was established in a small room in the village hall with a class of 20 students. Its aim was and continues to be, to provide equal access to quality education, with a particular focus on supporting those children in the village who live in poverty and/or those who had been affected by HIV/Aids.
Today the number of students receiving an education at the school has grown over 10 fold to over 200 and Kilines and the team aim to see that number grow even more.
“I believe that education is the best life changer. It is through quality education that we can break the vicious cycle of poverty in Mlali.”